Maths Makes Sense presents a new way of teaching pure maths to 4-11 year olds by combining concrete objects with larger-than-life actions and a distinct vocabulary to teach the ‘10 Big Ideas’ of primary maths. Before the age of seven these are addition; subtraction; multiplication; division; equals; the symbols speak to you; the logic of the language tells you the answer; and denomination. After seven years of age, ratio and infinity are also introduced. It’s a purposeful mix of formal and informal maths learning.
The Big Ideas come alive by using physical objects such as cups, cards and sticks to create a palpable and visible exemplification of maths combined with action, dynamic vocabulary, images and written symbols. The idea is to create memorable maths pictures in children’s minds which they can later call upon and use when they ‘do maths’ without concrete materials to hand.
To help children get to grips with this, Maths Makes Sense promotes performing calculations and concepts using exaggerated actions and using carefully designed phrases and a maths story. To put all this into practice means adopting a dynamic teaching cycle whereby the teacher leads from the front using ‘big teaching’. A class then works together, or in groups, under the teacher’s wing before being paired off for consolidation. Teaching with children and not at children ensures you can assess their understanding with real insight.
The Maths Makes Sense Toolkit contains all the concrete objects you need to start teaching
and it’s quite a collection. You get fraction cards, place value cards, cup sets, angle templates, pupil tables, decimetre stick sets, and ratio sticks to name a few of the goodies.
The Teacher’s Guide is jam-packed full of expertise containing step-by-step lesson plans with clear objectives, steps for assessment, direct teaching and guided practice. The planning is A1. The Guide comes with a fully customisable electronic version too, which enables you to tinker and tailor as you want.
For the Maths Coordinator, there is a handbook that will come in more than useful and provides you with a comprehensive guide about how to deliver MMS effectively in your school. There is also a DVD which provides a great overview and would be perfect for an inset. The software is cracking. It includes editable activities, PCMs, engaging animations and video clips, and is designed so that you can add your own spin and create your own plans.
In my opinion, Maths Makes Sense needs a bit of welly, which is why I think you need a maths heart to deliver it with real passion. Results don’t come overnight and MMS isn’t the solution to all our maths problems, but it clearly has a lot to offer and is more than worthy of a place in our repertoire.
If you have your finger on the pulse, then Maths Makes Sense is the next big thing in maths and we should all be excited by it. If you are a deep thinking school looking to implement a whole school programme with some mathematical punch that enables children to understand the conceptual, symbolic nature of maths from the outset, then what are you waiting for!
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